YMMV: Real Life


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    A-D 
  • Actually Pretty Funny: The same critics who feel that Real Life is a Black Comedy with a Downer Ending generally admit that there are a few elements that vindicate the series. Laser-Guided Karma seems to be a particular favorite.
  • Anti-Climax Boss: The Soviet Union, basically. The entire twentieth century seemed to be building-up to an epic boss battle between the USA and the USSR, and then... the USSR just implodes. That's some pretty shoddy writing.
  • Anvilicious: The entire World War Two arc was basically just the writers saying "fascism is bad, mmmkay?" over and over and over again for six seasons.
    • Nine, counting the Spanish Civil War cutscene, although that one was poorly written and confusing.
      • Meanwhile some hack was going over a newly independent Poland and decided that after making its breakout appearance on world maps that it was going to have its epic. It digressed into antics including Loads and Loads of Characters leading into a Gambit Pileup that caused wars with the Soviet Union and Lithuania, an internal coup and border disputes with Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Reads like train wreck Fan Fiction culminating with the invasion by Hitler. God was likely on one hell of a bender when he wrote the interwar period in the region.
    • The War on Terror story-arc. It got real old real quick. Also, the massive Broken Aesop that accompanies it. "We're going to fight terrorism... by blowing up people!" What?
  • Arc Fatigue:
    • The War On Terror Arc has been going on for over thirteen seasons, and the resolution (presumably the end of terror) is nowhere in sight.
    • The War on Communism / Cold War arc lasted a record-stretching 75 seasons and supplied a major Crisis Crossover of the 20th century. Some characters seem to be unaware that the arc ended, and continue to build massive bomb shelters and stockpile ammo in case of a commie takeover. Some would love to see the arc brought back, since they enjoyed the power they had during its continuity.
    • The Crusades, which lasted almost 200 seasons. The early arcs were okay. Big fights, mighty nations fighting. They'd been setting it up for hundreds of seasons. There was some Seasonal Rot with the later ones, though. The Children's Crusade, for example, or the Fourth Crusade, which never made it to the Holy Land. Instead, it turned on Constantinople and destroyed the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantines would regain power about sixty seasons later.
    • The War On Drugs arc had so little success, and met with so much apathy, that it was put Out of Focus without even being aborted.
    • Ditto the "War on Poverty", which was arguably a Red Herring.
  • Archive Binge: People have spent their entire lives exploring the backstory (in fact, there is an entire career path dedicated to this). This has been known to lead to the ultimate Archive Panic. Just to make things even harder, much if not all of the archive is written by Unreliable Narrators, and From a Certain Point of View is almost universal.
  • Archive Panic: Oh so much.
  • Best Level Ever: This. TV Tropes Will Enhance Your Life, indeed.
  • Big Name Fan: People like Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein became famous by making complex and staggeringly accurate WMGs about the mechanics of Real Life, to the point of appearing in-universe!
  • Breather Level: Holidays, including sabbath/days of rest (once per week is a common standard). Not everyone uses these days to pursue leisure activities, though. And not everyone gets them either.
    • Contracting an annoying yet contagious disease that means a young character cannot attend school. Some players try to fake illness for just this reason, although their rate of success varies.
  • Broken Base: Many. Most base breakers involve views on politics, religion, and other such philosophies.
    • One of the biggest is the release-date history. Many claim it took billions of years of trial-and-error programming to get the final product, others claim the head programmer put it together in a week as a pet-project. And even the identity of the head programmer is in question. Some claim to be in contact with him or her, and also claim they know his or her true vision for the product and how is should be used, while others argue he or she wants something completely different. There are also others that denounce any claims as hoaxes. The fact that the lead appears to insist on speaking through other people and not openly to everyone doesn't help matters.
  • Cargo Ship: Goes back a lot further than battery-powered toys.
  • Cliché Storm: Good luck finding a character archetype that isn't included. Also, World War II.
  • Complaining About Shows You Don't Like: Related to the above, many people get thoroughly disenfranchised with this series, for any myriad number of reasons. Some have reached a Dork Age in their "high school" story arcs, become Butt Monkeys, Gone Mad from the Revelation, etc. Many people complain about mini-games and a few cutscenes not being grounded in the main game's physics. Of course, most of these people are no fun.
  • Continuity Porn: It is very difficult to understand any one part of Real Life without knowing the circumstances leading up to it (e.g., you can't understand the War on Terror without understanding the Cold War, which you can't understand without understanding World War II, which you can't understand without understanding World War I, which you can't understand without understanding the Congress of Vienna, etc.).
  • Contractual Purity: A lot of innocent child stars get sick of their status as good role models and decide to play villainous and uncharacteristic roles to break away from their squeaky-clean image. Averted when the actors can build careers with quality roles as a character actor in popular films.
  • Crazy Awesome: Some of the most memorable characters, who would be Memetic Badasses if it weren't for the fact you couldn't make up anything more outlandish than what they did in canon.
  • Creator Worship: Hoooo boy. Talk about the Trope Maker!
  • Creator's Pet: Paris Hilton in pop culture.
    • Some parents love their kids no matter what they do.
    • Anyone wealthy and powerful.
    • Large banks. HSBC committed money laundering, but the U.S. decided not to prosecute. The big banks also got bailouts after the 2007-08 financial crisis. Big business in general gets this kind of treatment from governments.
  • Crossover Ship: A small minority of characters write Show Within a Show, self-insert fan-fiction, which can lead to this.
  • Crossing the Line Twice: Played somewhat straight, although instead of becoming funny, something just becomes acceptable. Happened in the World War 2 arc, and also happens in some levels like Iran.
  • Crowning Moment of Awesome: So many that it has its own section.
  • Crowning Moment of Funny: This work has its own section.
  • Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: Has its own page for this too.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: Also has its own page.
  • Death of the Author: Friedrich Nietzsche took this approach to interpreting Real Life. Whether this counts as an example of the trope depends very much on whether said author exists.
  • Demonic Spider: Many are quite infamous because of their ability to transmit poisons and diseases that impair your character for days and quite possibly kill you off before you even notice them.
  • Designated Hero/Designated Villain: Many, many examples. A notable one for Designated Hero would be Stalin in the World War II arc, who's own atrocities were just as bad, if not worse, than Hitler's.
  • Die for Our Ship: Unfortunately, in extreme cases, it can become literal. Also, in a case of being a bit too Literal-Minded, many sailors have invoked this trope, especially during warfare.
  • Disappointing Last Level: Old age. Despite its widely advertised shortcomings, still considered preferable to the alternative.
    • For many, the last few weeks/days of school before vacations. Also applies to Fridays before weekends, assuming one is lucky enough to have weekends off.
    • For certain niche gamers, the periods between the next game in their favorite series/genre gets released.
    • Sundays in general.

    E-L 
  • Ending Fatigue: Earth has several different scenarios named "countries", each one with a boss that rules it. Those bosses are renewed from time to time, to keep the game interesting, but the developer team did not design all scenarios well. Some badly designed scenarios have bosses that stay much longer than they should, and the "Refresh" button does not always work as expected.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: A surprising number of characters have risen from obscurity to become major characters. Some, like the dinosaurs, wound up being killed off for Rule of Drama: others, such as China, turned out simply to be on a Long Bus Trip.
  • Epileptic Trees: There are a numerous fan theories that the gamemasters secretly staged elements of series canon, such as the Apollo moon landing and the WTC terrorist attack. Every attempt to explain The Verse seems to fall into this, due to a combination of Shrug of God and an extremely complicated Kudzu Plot.
    • Most (if not all) religions fall under this category, as well.
  • Even Better Sequel/Sequelitis: World War II. It depends on who you ask. On one hand, it had really improved action sequences, but on the other hand, it reused the villains from the first one, and it had the infamous "Genocide" story arc.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: How else to describe a universe where even the things that are good for you - sunlight, oxygen, exercise - can suddenly kill you?
  • Evil Is Cool: A very popular trope among adolescents.
  • Fan Myopia: Oh, come on. Who doesn't know about Real Life?
  • Fanon: Plenty of it. In-universe characters seem to like inventing stories about things that never happened in canon.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Most celebrity ships qualify.
    • Some people pretend that entire subplots never happened. For example, the Genocide subplot in the World War II arc. Even worse, some refuse to believe that entire story arcs happened.
  • Fanservice: A little, but let's face it: not nearly enough.
  • Game Breaker: Each era has an example. Steel, gunpowder, and the airplane are good examples. Currently, nuclear weapons. Such an extreme example that their usage is formally banned, and many want them to be removed completely. Being born to a rich family will let you surpass many of the financial problems everyone else has to deal with.
    • If you have a lot of money, there are more arbitrage opportunities available to you that let you gain even more money.
  • Goddamned Bats: Mosquitoes, bedbugs, rats in some places, as well as many others.
    • Other people. Get in a crowd, and you will agree.
  • Gonk: Most of the fish, reptiles and bats. Pretty common among human characters, too.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The Trope Namer. Also, some parts of Africa like George W. Bush... due to his spending tons of money on AIDS programs there.
  • Good Bad Bugs: In several paths, it's possible to make large amounts of money simply by moving other people's money around. Unfortunately, overuse of this bug in seasons 1929 and 2008 almost caused the entire system to crash.
    • During the George Bush arc the "Become Rich By Moving Other People's Money Around: The Good Version" (the one carried out by the public servants) was pushed up to 10 with the "economic stimulus package". The more edgy Obama arc pushed this up to 11.
    • A group of players found a way to combine the intuitive, physics-based control scheme with levels that weren't designed for specific maneuvers, and created a whole new minigame!
  • Growing the Beard: Many agree that the series found its foothold when the concept of Humanity was first introduced. Others claim that while the 'Life Appears' concept was great in principle, the twist that cast Humanity as a main character has led to a long Dork Age saved only by a few Moments of Awesome.
    • The first few thousand seasons after Humanity was introduced are considered unimpressive, concentrating mainly on day to day survival and featuring a lot of unnecessary shock elements such as cannibalism and indiscriminate slaughter. It's considered that the necessity of coping with farming on floodlands and the planning involved caused the creation of such popular elements as art, civilisation and legal codes which enabled the longevity of the Humanity concept.
      • Fans who love action scenes, however, tend to love the early episodes more. Some cool random encounters such as the Mammoth and Dodo just aren't available anymore. And since the weapons are much harder to acquire and use since the Modern Age patch, this series is more or less in a state of Badass Decay.
    • Many say that Europe Grew The Beard during the Renaissance.
  • Hilarity Ensues: One word: schadenfreude. Also known around here as Comedic Sociopathy.
  • Holy Shit Quotient: Trope Namer.
  • Idiot Plot: An unbelievable number of characters had to be involved in a giant Credit Card Plot to start the recent Financial Crisis miniarc. Sadly, it's starting to look like most of the major players got a Karma Houdini pass.
    • The American Revolution storyline started a series of Democracy arcs in various regions, but a surprising number of those arcs devolved into Idiot Plots.
  • It Gets Better: Boy did it. At first humans were running around in dead animal skins hitting each other with rocks. Then technology and medicine improved, people began to understand one another better, and all sorts of arts and entertainment were created. They now run around in woven plant matter hitting each other with a huge variety of stuff.
    • This applies to the series as a whole. While the Pilot Episode (dubbed the "Big Bang" by most fans) was fairly well-received, the following several billion seasons were criticized for a total lack of significant characters or plot events. The series picked up again with the introduction of the Earth story arc. Despite suffering a fair bit of Seasonal Rot since then, this is the story arc that is ongoing to this day and shows no signs of ending any time soon.
  • It's Short, so It Sucks : Averted. Some believe that life is short, so they try to make the most out of life. Ironically, unless you believe in an afterlife (and if it actually exists), this is the longest game you'll ever play.
  • Jumping the Shark: Many players argue that the jump was made during the recent American 'War on Terror' arc. Fans with extensive canon knowledge have pointed out that it's the same basic plot as the Red Scare arc, which in turn was a cheap rip-off of the Spanish Inquisition arc - neither of which were terribly popular arcs at the time, and both of which are now regarded as an Old Shame.

    M-Y 
  • Magnificent Bastard: Played in every direction. Particularly memorable was during the WWII arc, where they ran rampant all over the place. The same arc featured a deconstruction with Oskar Schindler, a racketeer mostly concerned with filling his pockets who has one of the most moving Heel Face Turns in the entire series. Also, some characters are convinced that the author is one of these.
    • Napoleon Bonaparte, recognised as such by both his allies and enemies.
    • Robert Hanssen, Soviet mole in the FBI, was once assigned to track himself down.
  • Misaimed Fandom: A lot of players like things that other players don't think they should.
  • Most Annoying Sound: The Alarm Clock, which starts the episodes of most characters. They usually ignore it.
  • Possession Sue: A common practice in Real Life fan fiction.
  • Protection from Editors: The creator clearly believes the work is perfect as it stands and needs no editing. According to one (possibly apocryphal) anecdote, when one of the staff criticized the first chapter, the creator had him and his friends fired. Said ex-staff member and his friends would go on to form their own rival studio that would attempt to change the characters and plots even further.
  • Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: The big wrap-up of the Dinosaurs arc.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
  • Seasonal Rot: Although newbies tend to like the Cretaceous more, Jurassic fans are quick to note that the favored dinosaurs of that era (Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops) are mere stand-ins for the Killed Off for Real Allosaurus and Stegosaurus. Some even argue that the whole thing went to pot after the Triassic (and the less said about the seasons after the monkeys took over, the better.)
    • Winter. Everyone becomes much more grouchy, not to mention the cold.
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: The reason why a child sees everything in the world as wonderful, while with most adults, familiarity has bred contempt.
  • Sequel Displacement: World War II is far more remembered than World War I. The Third Punic War is where Rome kicks Carthage's butt; anyone remember what happened in the 1st and 2nd? Also, frequently happens to monarchs: Everyone remembers Henry VIII. Henrys I-VII, not so much.
  • Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer: Considering the incredible number of gold saucers, this was inevitable, really. You can make a decent living from a few of these, but unfortunately they're usually the least fun.
  • Spoiler: Certain Books of Prophecy provide in-universe spoilers, but time has proven most of them to be inaccurate. Here, on the other hand, are some spoilers for those of you too impatient to undergo an Archive Binge:
    • Stable atoms, hydrogen, blue-green algae, jellyfish, cockroaches, sharks, turtles, those goofy branch-dwelling feathery dinosaurs, marsupials, elephants (but not mastodons), and rock music all turn out to be Ensemble Dark Horse material. You have our condolences if you lost money betting on instantaneous universal collapse, electromatter, trilobites, pterodactyls, saber-toothed tigers, Australopithecus boiseii, or Carthage. Stromatolites, coelacanths and humans are still up in the air.
    • Cyrus dies, Alexander dies, Qin Shi Huangdi dies, Caesar dies, The Allies win, Hitler dies, The Allies win again, Stalin dies, Mao dies, Oswald kills Kennedy, Nixon lied, Capitalism wins (except for the Cuba and NK special conflict zones).
    • Apollo 13 makes it back safe. The 300 Spartans don't. The Mongols win. Every. Single. Time. The Cubs don't... Every. Single. Time. O.J. did it, but got off anyway. Same with Alger Hiss. Oh, and that whole "Slavery Issue" in the USA? Still not fully solved, 180+ years later.
    • Everybody dies, including you.
  • Squick: Approximately 25% of the internet. Shock sites compose at least 10% of this. Certain sites can actually be High Octane Squick. Heck, there's a bunch of this outside the Internet.
  • “Stop Having Fun” Guys:
    • The responsibilities and reduced free time that comes with growing up.
    • The generally accepted criteria for a 'good' life. Not happily married with children and a 'respectable' job? You, sir, fail at life.
      • More often than not this aspect of the trope plays itself straight.
    • Demanding parents can bring this up even earlier than normal. "We're so worried about little Timmy's academic performance, his pattern recognition is lacking, he can't seem to grasp phonics, and he's small! Heaven knows what it'll be like when he's born!"
  • Stop Helping Me!: Parents. Sometimes this persists well into the adult arc and even the married-with-children arc for some characters.
  • Strawman Has a Point: Justified, as even the most insane extreme has to have the remains of something good at the core, in order to make it palatable.
  • Tear Jerker: Many, but the biggest one would be the unexpected and tragic death of my goldfish. Sadly, has its own page.
  • That One Boss:
    • The SATs.
    • Those following the Medicinal path can look forward to the 5 hour long MCAT. Fun.
      • Up to Eleven in France where those aiming for high-school teaching can expect written exams that can last for as long as 7 hours.
    • Interviews, for those who've neglected their social training.
    • Occasionally, an actual boss.
    • In fact, let's just lump in the whole Employment drill.
    • School bullies, to whoever has been intimidated. Doesn't help that these are optional bosses that not every player has to face...
  • That One Level: World War I, World War II and the Great Depression qualify. The 100 Years War evenmoreso.
    • Education in general is quite hated by the fanbase, but the most notorious are arguably the middle school and high school levels.
    • For the Western Roman faction, the Hun invasion was almost impossible to beat. Eventually the Roman faction won, but at such a cost as to eventually result in the faction's demise.
    • The "IRS Audit" level has proved roundly unpopular. Same goes for the "minimum wage job" stage. However, the "divorce" stage is probably one of the most hated in the entire game.
    • Air travel, post-9/11.
    • Throughout history, Afghanistan has proven itself to be That One Level for various factions. From The Hellenistic arc up to the current arc, it tends to leave factions a bit frustrated.
    • Puberty. At least it gives you some decent stat buffs and a huge new set of character class options.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Constantly, many people complain that the present series is not as good as 'the olden days'.
    • "For thousands of years, man thought the moon was made of cheese. We went there in the 60's, and proved it was made of rock. We haven't been back since."
    • The entire Raison d'ętre of fundamentalists of all stripes.
  • Tier-Induced Scrappy: The homeless/very poor. Alternatively, the very rich.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: Zig zagged.
  • A World Half Full: While there's still quite a bit of conflict, the general pattern of Reverse Cerebus Syndrome has led to a world with a lot of problems that people are constantly fighting, and a lot of beautiful places and creations.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: While the game play is often frustrating, the plot repetitive, and the other players are often obnoxious, the graphics can be awesome.
    • Aurora borealis, rainbows (single or double), sunsets, meteor showers, the first-person-shooter view of the galaxy, peacocks, and eclipses are all strong examples.